Begin your journey in Casablanca
Spend two weeks in a life-changing experience traversing this unique and incredible country. Volunteer at a village in the high Atlas Mountains. Head to the Sahara Desert, where you’ll ride a camel and take in the beauty of the sand dunes. Visit the largest mosque in Africa in Casablanca, hike the majestic Dades Gorges, surf or relax on the beach in the coastal town of Essaouira, and admire the colorful goods and exotic spices in the souqs of Marrakesh. Through all these experiences and more, Morocco will offer you a journey you will never forget.
After meeting and greeting your flight leader and the other students traveling to Morocco, you are off to Casablanca! Most students are able to sneak in a nap and relax with their new friends during the flight. On arrival to Casablanca, explore the magnificent Hassan II Mosque, the largest mosque in Africa, and enjoy your very first delicious Moroccan meal.
Drive to Douar Sbiti, a village situated in a large olive grove in Ourika Valey at the foot of the Atlas Mountains! Get to know your program leaders, and the incredible group of enthusiastic students with whom you will be spending the next two weeks on the way.
Tonight, you will savor your first Moroccan Berber Tajine for dinner as you get to know some of the local villagers and get oriented to your new home away from home!
Gear up and let the service begin! After breakfast and a quick lesson in Moroccan colloquial Arabic (Darija), you will begin work on our upcoming project.
This project’s objective is to empower students through preschool education; as the village believes in the importance of preparing students before entering primary school. The village leaders identified and expressed this need and we are honored to have the privilege of working with them to make the preschool vision a reality.
While in the village, you will get to visit local families for tea as part of your cultural immersion in Morocco.
Your time in Douar Sbiti will be dedicated to working on our project and immersive cultural activities. You will gain so much knowledge about the Amazigh culture, music, and rural life in Morocco! You will be fascinated by the simple lifestyle the locals enjoy, and you will experience their kindness and hospitality.
This experience is a golden opportunity to learn about the tremendous benefits of community service, the significance of the positive impact you will leave on the locals and their community, and most importantly, a chance for you to grow personally and interpersonally.
After you rise for an early morning breakfast, it is time to say goodbye to your new friends from the village and hit the road toward the south!
Arrive in the 14th century village of Ait Benhaddou, a fortified village built of mud bricks, which is the largest and most spectacular example of South Moroccan architecture. Stay for the night in your own mudbrick kasbah. After lunch at the Hollywood of Morocco, divide into teams and let the scavenger hunt begin! Using clues, search for and collect the listed items with your team as you work on your language and bartering skills. This will be a great opportunity to learn about the local culture.
More Kasbahs are awaiting along the road to your next stop, Tafraout. Stop at “La Kasbah des Caids” near Agdaz and learn about local Jewish history and Moorish, Islamic and Amazigh architecture as you travel in time back to the 16th century when this spot was a crucial crossroads and trading center.
Sabah al-khair! (Good morning!) After breakfast, visit the local association to learn more about Henna and cumin making processes before you explore the nearby palm gardens that lay next to an amazing rock formation.
Hit the road towards the Sahara, and on your way stop in Rissani to learn more about the Alaouite dynasty that has been ruling Morocco since the 17th centry at its founder’s mausoleum.
Get ready and rub your eyes to ensure you are not seeing a mirage as you approach the majestic dunes. Drop your heavy bags off at our riad in the desert outpost town before hopping on your camel with a light daypack of things you will need for the camp. Photograph the dramatic sunset as the caravan rolls away along the dunes to our Bedouin camp. Sit down for tea and local cuisine while enjoying the rhythmic beats of desert musicians around a campfire. Try your hand at sandboarding before soaking in the star-studded sky, where you can see the Milky Way like you have never seen it before, and then nod off to sleep under the stars.
After a good night’s sleep, wake up early to get a view of an incredible sunrise from the nearby dunes. Take some incredible photos before packing up and heading back to Merzouga. Have breakfast and try your best to wash off all the sand!
Hit the road the to the majestic Dades gorge, and while you are enjoying the incredible view, you will take some time as a group to reflect on the experience so far, as you have learnt about local culture from all the places you visited and people you met.
Time to head to Tahnaout! Take the Road of One Thousand Kasbahs and stop in on them. The 17th century Amridil Kasbah will teach you more about the ancient way of life in the south of Morocco.
Get to Terres D’Amanar, a high-ropes and zip-lining eco-park in the High Atlas Mountains. The group will check-in to comfortable tent rooms and experience the adrenaline of the zip lines and high-ropes course in addition to the many team-building games that will test our students’ communication skills. This will be so much fun!
After a morning of activities, hit the road to the historic red city of Marrakech. Take time to observe the intricate architecture in every corner. Unwind in a traditional Moroccan riad in the heart of the old medina before dining in Marrakesh’s world-renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site, Jamaa Elfna Square, in which you will enjoy the lively hustle and bustle of this melting pot of Moroccan culture and folklore.
It is souq time! Wander the UNESCO-acclaimed thousand-year-old market where you can watch snake charmers entrance their cobras and vendors hawk their wares. See everything from whale vertebrae and acrobats to ostrich eggs and traditional henna! The mosque will sound a call to prayer as smoke from kabob stands billows peacefully over the frenzy below. Explore and learn about the famous Islamic architecture through some of the oldest monuments in the world.
Rise and shine for another full day in the Medina! Walk through the souqs to arrive at one of the most authentic spice shops in Marrakech where you will attend a quick talk about spices and herbs, which are an important component of local culture. Close by, you will see the Bin Youssef Madrasa, a stunning 12th century Islamic school, a hallmark of Islamic and North African architecture. Practice your photography skills and tricks as you go. Some of today will be for exploration in smaller groups, shopping for unique Moroccan goods after we teach you how to bargain like a Moroccan, take pictures and enjoy your last evening in the Red City.
Drive to the Atlantic coast to the funky beach town of Essaouira. Hang out in the white-walled medina and watch the seagulls overhead in the town known for its annual Gnaoua Music Festival. Stroll through the friendly European-style streets, barter for sunglasses, handicrafts, and textiles while munching on a delicious crepe from a street-side vendor.
Try your hand at surfing! Eat lunch by the shore and soak in the breeze as you enjoy a slower pace of life and cooler climate. This will be last opportunity for shopping for souvenirs. The souqs in Essaouira, much like the ones in Marrakesh, are stacked with ceramics, leather goods, baskets, carpets and jewelry.
Wake up to the sounds of the ocean and enjoy your last breakfast on the beach. Pack your bags and head back to Casablanca! Enjoy a final sunset and dinner with your new friends before you go back to your riad for a good night’s sleep.
Wake up early and head to the airport to return home or to continue on your summer adventure. We hope your experiences in Morocco are unforgettable and your friendships will last for a lifetime.
Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity.
The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.
“Optional Activities” are fully included in the cost of your program, but you can choose to not do these activities.
“Add-On Activities” are not included in the cost of your program and must be paid for separately. Add-on activities are rare, but include things like skydiving, bungee jumping, or weekend side-trips. Not every program has add-on activities.
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Moroccan Wanderer explores the incredible diverse geography that Morocco has to offer. You will see it all, from Atlantic coastal beaches to medieval cities to the endless sands of the Sahara Desert. The program is fast paced and packed full of all the top sites in Morocco. You have a lot to see in your two weeks so lace up your boots and pack light, you will be a true globe trotter by the time you leave us.
Camel trekking, hiking, surfing, and zip lining are all activities you can expect to participate in on this program. While participating in service also expect to get your hands dirty and do some physical labor while helping out with the construction of a kindergarten through our partner organization in the Atlas Mountains. While none of these activities are overly strenuous or physically demanding you should feel comfortable and confident in participating.
If you come along for this Moroccan adventure expect to experience it all.
You will stay in hotels with hot showers and western style toilets. In some cities like Marrakech you’ll enjoy the special treat of staying in a riad, a traditional Moroccan mansion style house. With many rooms, a central courtyard, and beautiful architecture, riads are a favorite place to stay among students. Most riads are equipped with air conditioning, western toilets, and warm showers.
While participating in our service project in the small village of Ourikt you’ll be staying at a newly renovated kasbah. Our partners have converted this old Moroccan style fortress into a hip guesthouse. Rooms are dorm style and showers and bathrooms are shared.
While spending the night in the Sahara Desert you’ll be stopping over at a small encampment to take in the desert stars and enjoy a hearty meal. The camp has a shared latrine but no showers. Don’t worry you’ll wash all that sand off tomorrow. You’ll share a Bedouin style tent with some fellow students, I’m sure you’ll be tired after that camel ride so get to bed early so you can be up on time to see a breathtaking sunrise across the largest non-polar desert in the world.
During your stay in the Atlas Mountain village of Ourikt in tighza valley, you will be working alongside our partner the Ourikt Development Organization. The ongoing project is the construction of a new kindergarten for the community. The long-term impact this project will have on students is vital, as they have never been exposed to any kind of preschooling education before. After the kindergarten is completed the Ministry of Education will provide the funds to afford the new school a teacher and supplies.
Students will have access to clean, safe drinking water (pronounced lma) on this trip at all times. Water in faucets can be used to brush your teeth but is not for drinking. Summertime in Morocco is very hot (you’re headed to the desert after all)! Please remember to pack a reusable water bottle so you can constantly stay hydrated throughout the program.
Delicious traditional Moroccan food of course! Morocco is home to many delectable dishes many of them heavily influenced by French colonialism. Having been a major stop along the African spice route, Moroccan cuisine is rich and flavorful. The tagine, a Moroccan favorite is a stew cooked within a conical clay pot where couscous, vegetables, spices and chicken or beef are usually piled high to be shared around the table. Dig in and fork what strikes your fancy onto your plate or eat like a real Moroccan and scoop up each bite with some crisp and crunchy bread. Variations of the tagine are common as well as fish fillet and assorted kinds of kebabs. Hearty lentil soups are also a good starter to any meal. Be sure to sample some pastilla while you are traveling, this traditional dish is a crispy crepe stuffed with chicken and spices while the top is sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. It’s the perfect combination of savory and sweet! Almost all Moroccan meals are served with bread, as it is a big staple in Moroccan daily life. After you are good and stuffed be sure to wash down your Moroccan feast with a steaming cup of sweet Moroccan mint tea.
Morocco is incredibly geographically diverse and therefore experiences several different climates depending on which region you are visiting. It is important to keep all of these in mind while you are preparing for your trip. Morocco’s Atlantic coastal cities such as Casablanca and Essaouira are generally cooler and milder than in the interior. Expect ocean breezes and lower temperatures than what you would find traveling east. The interior of Morocco such as in Marrakech is hot and sunny during the summer with sporadic periods of rainfall. Up in the Atlas Mountains where you will be doing your community service expect it to be hot and sunny during the day and cooler at night. The Sahara Desert region in the south is incredibly hot and dry during summer months. Besides packing appropriate clothing don’t forget a water bottle and sunscreen!
It is very important that we respect the cultural norms and local customs while traveling throughout Morocco. With a majority of the population practicing Islam, Morocco is a conservative Muslim country and the influence of religion is felt in the ways people act, dress, and present themselves. Women should be very mindful of their clothing while visiting Morocco. It is important to wear modest clothing that does not show or reveal too much skin. This means avoiding shorts and tank tops and tight clothing such as yoga pants or leggings. Wearing loose fitting clothes will keep you cooler during hot days and the added coverage will protect your skin from that powerful Moroccan sun! When visiting religious sites such as the Hassan II mosque it is required that women cover their heads before entering the mosque so remember to pack a scarf or saraong. While swimming or visiting the beach we ask that you please pack a one-piece bathing suit. Remember, Morocco isn’t all desert and heat, evenings on the Atlantic coast or up in the Atlas Mountains can get pretty chilly and breezy even during the summer months. Be sure to pack a sweatshirt or light jacket that you can throw on just incase!
In the cities such as Casablanca and Marrakech many people speak English to varying degrees. Moroccans speak a local dialect of Arabic called Darija. In many of the Atlas Mountain communities the local dialect is Berber where the majority of the people make up this indigenous minority. If you know some French this will also go a long way in Morocco. Once a colony of France the majority of Moroccans can speak French as it is still taught within Moroccan schools. We encourage you to practice or pick up as much Arabic as you can during your trip. It is fun to practice and your local Moroccan leader can help you translate and teach you words along the way. Using Arabic in the markets and souks of Morocco will go a long way towards impressing vendors and ensure you get the best price while bargaining.
The Islamic Holy Month of Ramadan is a special time of year when Moroccans commemorate the first revelation of the Koran to Muhammad. The annual observance is very important as it is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Muslims observe the month long holiday by taking on an extra sense of self-accountability and charity. From sun up to sun down Moroccans will fast and abstain from eating and drinking. As a result, daytime during the holiday takes on a slower pace. You will frequently see Moroccans napping and dozing in the heat and many shops and stores have shorter hours. At night when the sun goes down Muslims break their fast and things come alive as people are often eating, shopping, and celebrating with their friends and family well into the night. Your program will run as usual during this time and while Moroccans do not expect foreigners or visitors to fast it is important to be mindful and respect those that are fasting. Taking our food and drink indoors or snacks and ice cream during van rides instead of out in public view is a way to honor this. Ramadan is a great opportunity for students to gain additional insight and perspective on Islam as well as enjoy the spiritual energy and atmosphere this holiday has to offer.
When you join us on this incredible journey we want you to have an as immersive experience as possible and soak it all in. To do that you are encouraged to take a break from technology and engage with the life on the ground in Morocco. Leave the lands of social media behind and focus on being present in the moment—don’t worry, it will still be there when you return—we promise!
You will have access to internet in Casablanca and Marrakech but throughout the rest of the trip, internet access will be sporadic.
What should families at home do in case of emergency? You will be given the phone number to our 24/7 emergency line, which is kept open for true emergencies only. One of our awesome staff members in the U.S. will be in charge of this line, and they will pass any necessary information to us on the ground in Morocco.
International SOS provides the most up to date recommendations regarding Morocco. Since we do not know your child’s medical history, we recommend you reference International SOS’ website at: https://rusticpathways.com/international-sos/ or the CDC website at: http://www.cdc.gov for more information. We also suggest consulting with your local travel doctor prior to your travels for further information.
We recommend that each participant bring $300-$400 USD. Money can be exchanged in the airport upon arrival. If you choose to bring a debit/credit card, please make sure that your bank knows you will be traveling. ATMs are widespread throughout Morocco but there will be transaction fees for withdrawals. We will have a discussion about money management and safety during the orientation meeting on arrival day in Morocco.
Packing the right gear (and the right amounts) is the first step to an incredible travel experience. Follow these tips to pack like a pro:
Travel light. Pack only the essentials. You’ll need less than you think!
Bring the right clothes. Pack clothes that are culturally appropriate for your destination and acceptable for service projects. This means bringing lightweight pants/capris, t-shirts with sleeves to cover shoulders, and appropriate footwear. Shorts and leggings are not acceptable in Morocco.
Leave your valuables behind. While traveling, it’s easier for things to get lost, stolen, or damaged. Keep any prized possessions safe at home.
Check with TSA. Make sure your luggage complies with TSA regulations, especially your carry-on. Useful tip: Pack an empty water bottle and fill it up after security.
Extra paperwork? If you need additional forms filled out to get credit for your service hours, no problem! Bring these forms with you so they can be completed in-country.
A school backpack is ideal as it will be used for day trips.
A 50-70 Liter duffel bag or backpack is ideal.
(Travel size bottles in Ziploc bags)
Begin your journey in Casablanca
Explore the town famous as a setting for many Hollywood hits
Gear up for your days of service with the community! The project is part of an initiative undertaken by the Ourikt Development Association, a group of Amazighi men and women dedicated to improving education, agriculture, and the economy of Ourikt.
The starting point of your trip into the Sahara
Take a guided hike deep into the canyon
Wander through the medina and souqs of Marrakech
A full day of high ropes courses and ziplining awaits you
Learn to surf or windsurf in this coastal town